This hard-boiled homage to Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett is simultaneously the most boldly original comic-book adaptation yet and one of the nastiest films in a long while. Director Robert Rodriguez packs in images startling in their originality and action that frequently flirts with utter odiousness. With glorious black-and-white imagery augmented by splashes of color, the movie is a masterful technical achievement with the emotional underpinning of a stunted male adolescent. Adapted from Frank Miller’s noirish comics, “Sin City” is a movie where men are men and women are target practice. The film features three bloody tales, with a cast, including Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Rosario Dawson, Mickey Rourke, Benicio Del Toro and Jessica Alba. Miller shares directing credit, while Rodriguez pal Quentin Tarantino spent a day as “guest director.” Rated: R for sustained strong stylized violence, nudity and sexual content, including dialogue. Running time: 124 minutes. Rating: 2 out of 4 stars.

-David Germain, AP movie writer
‘Beauty Shop’

Just one degree of separation now exists between Queen Latifah and Kevin Bacon. After seeing “Beauty Shop,” you’ll wish they’d never met. Bacon bafflingly embarrasses himself here as an effeminate Austrian salon owner, whose cruel treatment prompts Latifah’s hairstylist character, spun off from “Barbershop 2,” to open her own shop. Her staff consists of head-rolling, finger-wagging ghetto stereotypes, with a clientele of white women who want to be like them. It’s easy to see why the talented Latifah would be drawn to the idea of this project – she’s also a producer – and she manages to eke out a modicum of grace amid the hackneyed antics. But seeing her charisma turned on full-blast, as it was in her Oscar-nominated “Chicago” performance, makes you long for something better for her, and for the black women in the audience who are tired of having Hollywood depict them in such a cliched way. Rated: PG-13 for sexual material, language and brief drug references. Running time: 105 minutes. Rating: 1 1/2 out of 4 stars.

– Christy Lemire, AP movie critic


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